Lucky Shabalala determined to pursue his dreams against all odds
Entrepreneur defies disability barriers
Being aware of his physical limits and understanding his disability has motivated Lucky Shabalala, 26, to become an entrepreneur who also creates jobs for locals.
Shabalala suffers from muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.
“Living with a disability is not a joke because it comes with a lot of disadvantages and limited opportunities. I had to accept my physical and health conditions and make means with whatever pieces life throws at me,” he says.
Initially, Shabalala dreamed of finding employment in the entertainment industry but came to realise that challenges that come with his disability were limiting his dreams and a lot of money is required for him to access even basic human needs.
“I opted to become an entrepreneur so that I can make money in an environment that is suitable to meet my physical conditions because I am wheelchair-bound,” he says.
In 2014, Shabalala established a business called Entertainment Neighborhood, which is a video gaming facility that affords township gamers access to high-end video gaming facilities such as PlayStation 4, with an internet connection that allows for online gaming.
He started the business by sharing his personal gaming equipment with community members around Beaconsfield in Vereeniging, where he resides, and he charged his clients R15 per hour.
“In the beginning, most of my clients were children who could not afford to own the gaming equipment, so they would come to my home to play and I would charge each person for a 30-minute slot. The demand grew over the years and now I have managed to set up a facility outside my parents’ house, to allow my clients space to enjoy entertainment,” he says.
Shabalala employs three young people who assist him with business operations.
In order to address some of his business challenges, Shabalala successfully applied for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) business grant worth R49,314, which he used to buy three screens, three game consoles, additional joy sticks and five games.
“The NYDA fund has restored my hope because I received funding after my equipment was stolen, which affected my business badly. Although Covid-19 affected our operations, my business is growing due to the assistance I received," he says.
• This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.
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